Coming down heavily on the state government, the Kerala High Court on Monday made it clear that it had no right to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and its role was confined to maintaining law and order in the area.
The court also flayed the government and the police over causing hardships to the pilgrims trekking to Sabarimala for the “darshan” of Lord Ayyappa.
The criticism came hours before the temple opened on Monday evening for the special “Sree Chitira Atta Thirunal” puja today, marking the birthday of the last king of Travancore — Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. The temple will close at 10 pm today.
A plea was filed by Ramesh of Mylapore in Tamil Nadu, seeking a direction from the court that the government and the chief minister had no authority to interfere in the day-to-day affairs of the shrine.
The court clarified that the government’s role was confined to maintaining law and order in the area, on the hearing day.
It could not interfere with the affairs of the temple management and dictate to the Devaswom (temple administration) Board, a division bench comprising justices P R Ramachandra Menon and N Anilkumar said.
Criticising the police for noting names and addresses of all the devotes who were on their way to Sabarimala for the special pooja, the court asked whether the government intended to “conduct something else”.
It also questioned the police action of preventing the media from carrying out their professional duties at Sabarimala.
Though the government reiterated that there was no ban imposed on the media, the court expressed its displeasure.
“You can’t cause hardships to pilgrims,” the court said and directed the government to file a detailed affidavit.
The division bench stressed the need to maintain the rule of law at Sabarimala.
On the police action in Nilackal last month, the court said from the materials available, it could be seen that a group of police officials was indulging in damaging two-wheelers parked on the roadside.
Prima facie, it could not be treated as discharge of official duty, the bench said and directed the state attorney to provide a list with the names of those involved.